If you struggle with falling asleep at night, you may be interested in taking something to help you get some rest. One such sleep aid is melatonin. This is a hormone that you can take to boost the existing melatonin levels in your body. Natural and synthetic melatonin helps prepare your body for sleep at night. If you’re taking birth control pills, though, taking additional melatonin may lessen the effectiveness of these pills.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in your body. This hormone helps you fall asleep and stay asleep at night. It’s produced by the pineal gland. This is a small gland above the middle of your brain.
When the sun goes down, your body produces melatonin, causing you to feel sleepy. Naturally occurring melatonin begins working around 9 p.m. Its levels will stay elevated for about 12 hours. By 9 a.m., the melatonin levels in your body are barely detectable.
If you’re having difficulty getting to sleep, you can take synthetic melatonin to boost the levels already found in the body. Melatonin might be useful for several conditions, such as:
- delayed sleep phase syndrome
- insomnia in children and the elderly
- jet lag
- sleep disorders
- sleep enhancement for those who are healthy
Melatonin is available over the counter. Because it’s considered a dietary supplement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate it. This means that what’s available for sale varies widely. This could also mean that what’s listed on the label may not be accurate. It’s recommended that you purchase commercial melatonin supplements produced in a lab to reduce the risk of this.
Taking melatonin may help you get to sleep more quickly or adjust your circadian rhythm, which is your body’s natural clock. If you use birth control pills, you should consult your doctor before using melatonin.
Melatonin and Birth Control
If you take birth control, you should discuss your sleep-aid options with your doctor. The combination of birth control and melatonin may alter the effectiveness of birth control pills. Birth control pills increase the natural melatonin in your body. When they’re used in combination with melatonin, your levels of melatonin may become too high.
Melatonin can also interact with other medications, including blood thinners, immunosuppressants, and diabetes medications.
Speaking with Your Doctor
If you use birth control and have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor before taking any new medications or supplements. Your doctor should evaluate the effectiveness of your birth control with added medications. Your doctor can outline any additional precautions you should take to prevent pregnancy.
Your doctor can also provide you with information on other possible sleep aids, as well as instruct you on the correct dosages. It’s important to take the right amount of any sleep aid to avoid disrupting your natural sleep cycle.